Enhancements in virtual reality and augmented reality are making them ever more immersive. Combined with 5G, they allow you to explore new content and service concepts. At Orange, several projects are under development, all based on using immersive technologies more responsibly. This was the theme of our conference on 16 November.
Video games, health, sport, social networks: immersive technologies are synonymous with new consumer experiences, where users enjoy 360° virtual universes or interact with digital content in real environments. Gradually, these technologies are becoming new tools for entertainment, learning, or working: more than 40% of French people have already experienced virtual reality . For users to fully benefit from these immersive innovations, it is essential to consider the associated health risks. In this area, Orange aims to act upstream, from the initial design of content and services.
Extended reality: a health issue
On 16 November, Orange organized a conference that presented the latest conclusions from ANSES and HCSP (High Council for Public Health) and reported on the risks associated with immersive technologies. Aimed at Orange employees across the business (research and development, marketing, HR etc.), the objective was for everyone to adopt the recommendations of the health authorities.
Published in June 2021, the ANSES study identifies two short-term risks of extended reality, a concept that combines virtual reality and augmented reality:
- Cybersickness, a short-term disturbance of the sensory systems. In some cases, it causes symptoms such as dizziness or loss of balance within the first few minutes of using a virtual reality headset, similar to motion sickness.
- The disruption of biological rhythms, such as the circadian rhythm, caused by the blue light effect, which is enhanced by the immersivity and prolonged use of LED screens.
The latest HCSP opinion issued in March 2021 also notes that extended screen use can be detrimental to the health of children and teens. Augmented reality games can affect the ability of young people to distinguish between fiction and reality. Immersion can also cause anxiety or stress, as it reinforces the impact of the content being broadcast.
- IDATE DigiWord – The Immersive Technologies Market - 2019.
- ANSES : Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l'alimentation, de l'Environnement et du travail
- ANSES : « What are the risks of virtual reality and augmented reality, and what good practices does ANSES recommend?», June 2021.
- HCSP : "Effects of children's and youth's exposure to screens: from excessive use to addiction" - March 2021.
Immersive and responsible content
During the conference, the experts stressed that once these risks have been identified, there is an essential need to ensure responsible uses of immersive technologies. This starts with creating positive content, especially in the fields of education, science and culture. This is the aim of projects under development such as “Infinity” or “ScanPyramids”, which enable people to go on virtual trips, for example on board the ISS or visiting the Great Pyramid of Giza, while feeling like they’re really there.
Another project launched on 15 January 2022 is Éternelle Notre-Dame, a unique immersive virtual reality tour of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. This groundbreaking tehnical feat will enable the public to dive into the heart of the history of the cathedral, from its initial construction in the Middle Ages up to the current restoration site.
Extended reality can also benefit the healthcare sector. The HCSP emphasizes that the use of digital technology can help children with autism cope with the various visual and auditory stimuli in their daily environment, for example the CUBE immersion cabin supported by the Orange Foundation.
Recommendations for using immersive technologies properly
While virtual universes can minimize the distance, time and borders between reality and fiction, it is essential to properly inform users about the potential effects. It is also essential to follow a few simple health recommendations, such as those adopted by Orange at the end of the conference on 16 November:
- Stop using the device in the event of nausea or dizziness.
- Avoid immersive technologies for people who suffer from epilepsy or hypersensitivity
- Limit the duration to 30 minutes per session for younger children
- Read the advice on the VR headset: we recommend a 15+ rating
- Come off your screens two hours before bedtime
- Follow the device operating instructions
As the sixth most active country behind the United States, Japan and China, France is a leading player in a sector worth 6.7 billion dollars in 2020. By creating innovative concepts for immersive services and content, while being clear about the risks that these technologies involve, we are committed to this future domain while defending our vision of an ethical, responsible and sustainable digital world.